Who will Blue Jays take at No. 5 in MLB Draft?

June 10th, 2020

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have a major opportunity in front of them with the No. 5 selection in the 2020 MLB Draft, their highest first-round pick since selecting Vernon Wells at No. 5 in 1997.

Toronto’s new core arrived in 2019, as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio took the first steps of what the Blue Jays hope will be cornerstone careers for the club. There’s another wave close behind, led by flame-throwing right-hander Nate Pearson, MLB Pipeline's No. 8 prospect, and the 2020 Draft gives the Blue Jays a chance to add more top-end talent to their system.

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted not only MLB, but the NCAA and high school levels, which presents some unique challenges for clubs entering this five-round Draft. The Blue Jays have adapted their scouting process to include more voices and upped their usage of video scouting, but many of their relationships with these prospects stretch back multiple years.

Day 1 of the 2020 Draft airs today on MLB Network and TSN3 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN in the U.S.) and includes the first 37 picks. Day 2 begins at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday on MLB Network and TSN2 (ESPN2 in the U.S.) and spans the remainder of the 160 picks.

Comprehensive coverage will be available on MLB.com and MLB Pipeline, which will simulcast MLB Network’s broadcast. Go to MLB.com/Draft to see when teams pick, the Top 200 Prospects list, mock drafts from analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, scouting video and more. And follow @MLBDraft and @MLBDraftTracker on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying and to get each pick as it’s made.

Here’s how the Draft is shaping up for the Blue Jays, whose first selection is the No. 5 overall pick:

State of the system
Led by Pearson, the Blue Jays are well stocked with big right-handers, including Simeon Woods-Richardson (their No. 3 prospect, per MLB Pipeline), Alek Manoah (No. 4) and Adam Kloffenstein (No. 9). The graduations of Guerrero, Bichette and Biggio thinned their prospect ranks, but the Blue Jays are still ranked as the No. 16 farm system in baseball entering the season.

What they’re saying
“It feels like a strong Draft class, both high school and college. I think there's going to be a lot of good players in whatever round we're picking. So, I am optimistic about the player pool that we have to select from." -- Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Shane Farrell, who is running his first Draft since joining the club

“Having the fifth pick this year, we’ll have a lot of focus on the three or four we feel like are in our mix there. The area scouts and the supervisors will largely take over the Draft and help us put the rest of the board together so that we’re in a position to help the Blue Jays sustain a championship run.” -- Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro

Who might they take?
Recent MLB Pipeline mock drafts from Callis and Mayo have projected the Blue Jays to select Zac Veen, an outfielder from Spruce Creek High School (Fla.) who is loaded with upside, or University of Minnesota right-hander Max Meyer. If he lasts until No. 5, the Blue Jays could opt for Nick Gonzales, a second baseman out of New Mexico State who hits everything. Pitchers like Emerson Hancock (Georgia) or Reid Detmers (Louisville) are possible.

Money matters
Each team gets an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of its selections in the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. This year, with a five-round Draft, all signing bonuses of drafted players will apply toward the bonus pool total.

For 2020, there is a $20,000 limit on bonuses for non-drafted free agents. There is no limit to the number of undrafted players teams may sign, but they cannot go over $20,000 per player. These bonuses do not count toward the pool total.

The Blue Jays have a pool of $9,716,500 to spend, including $6,180,700 to spend on their first selection.

Shopping list
The Blue Jays have a long history of home-grown outfield talent, but that’s changed recently. The club’s top outfield prospects are currently Griffin Conine (No. 14) and Dasan Brown (No. 17), so if there’s an opportunity to add to that group, the Blue Jays could quickly balance their system. Finding a true center fielder to fill that position long term has to be one of the club’s top priorities in the coming seasons.

Trend watch
College right-handers have been a trend for the Blue Jays, with Manoah, Pearson, TJ Zeuch, Jon Harris and Jeff Hoffman all getting selected in the first round over the past six years. There have been exceptions, of course, with college infielder Logan Warmoth in 2017, and the club's No. 2 prospect, Jordan Groshans, going No. 12 overall in '18, but big, strong right-handers are always worth keeping an eye on when the Blue Jays are on the clock. Recently, they've taken more of their risks in the second or third rounds, like grabbing Bichette in the second round in 2016.

The recent top picks
2019: RHP Alek Manoah (11th)
2018: SS Jordan Groshans (12th)
2017: SS Logan Warmoth (22nd) and RHP Nate Pearson (28th)
2016: RHP TJ Zeuch (21st)
2015: RHP Jon Harris (29th)